After Christmas

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, December 28, 2013

WE’RE on the fifth of the 12 days of the Christmas celebration from the Noche Buena on Christmas Eve to Innocents’ Day yesterday, to Media Noche on New Year’s Eve two days from now, up to the Epiphany, or the Three Kings, on Jan. 6.

And there are post-Christmas items, this time at discounts, many of them useful for the next celebratory season of Christmas.

Business in this country earns a lot during Christmas than in any other time of the year. But it has also learned how to earn more from after-Christmas sales.

The first time I went out to the mall to buy after-Christmas items, with discounts of up to 50 percent, was when I tagged along with my sister Coleen some years ago at the end of Christmas in a mall in Miami, Florida. I had not heard then of any store in Cebu putting at discounted prices unsold Christmas commodities. In the US, my sister always buys Christmas items a year ahead and swears that she saves on the costs of gifts and decorations.

But through the years here in our country, are after-Christmas sales earning? Is there still enough money for the ordinary citizen after the holiday over-spending?

A cab driver I took yesterday talked about the good times, like during Christmas when people have money for taxi rides instead of jeepney or motorcycle rides, while rushing to buy gifts.

And look at the roadside, full of people waiting for cab rides, the driver quickly looked back at me and smiled. He said that on his way to P. del Rosario St. to fetch me after I called for passenger service, a lot of people along Jones Ave. tried to stop him.

“They’d point to the empty seats of my cab and frantically made stop signs,” he laughed.

He said he could feel the difference between before the holiday and after. During Christmas, the cabbie finds most passengers paying in big bills, requiring changes from the drivers who usually would have the problem of lack of money in smaller denominations this time of the year. And people taking cab rides are part of the Christmas scenes of happy crowds, dancing lights, flying colors in this Christian country.

This is especially after office when people rush to malls for gift-buying and at night’s end when malls close and long lines of waiting passengers are seen in most mall exit lanes.

At the end of the Christmas holiday, taxi drivers observe that most passengers pay in bills of smaller denominations this time. Come Jan. 15, which is payday and the preparations for the Sinulog celebration, the bigger bills from taxi service users begin to show and people again over-spend to celebrate the holiday with visiting friends touring Cebu City in a country which is the third largest Catholic country in the world.

But through the years, the Filipino celebrant, who has turned simple religious fests in some places in the country into commercial blasts of holidays, is not alone. Other countries have celebrations more problematic at the end of each fest.

In some towns in India and China, even the poor over-spend on festivals and the situation after the over-spending is identified by observers as “holiday inflation.” Something like 10 to 15 percent of the poor households’ expenditure goes to festivals while education of the children gets only 2 or 3 percent of the annual income.

Concerned citizens would advise the over-spenders to think twice, and more, before falling for pre-fest items in preparation for the holiday. Not that spenders shouldn’t prepare for needs of a holiday but that they should plan what to buy, not merely what’s on sale and also to know exactly for whom the gift is for, says the wise Christmas spender.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 29, 2013.


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